Andy Griffith Dies at 86

From Broadway and music to Mayberry and Matlock, Andy Griffith proved the consummate entertainer in his more than six-decade long career. Tuesday morning, the beloved television icon passed away at his home in Manteo, N.C. He was 86. No cause of death was given.

Before the age of Internet celebrity, Griffith saw a comedic monologue he related at an insurance convention go viral – an impressive feat since, in 1953, when something went viral you visited the doctor, not YouTube.

For Griffith, the medium was radio, and the act a humorous football tale that became known as “What It Was, Was Football.” The recording was a hit, catching the ear of Richard O. Linke – the man who went on to guide Griffith’s career as his manager.

Griffith’s first big role came when he starred in the 1955 Broadway production of No Time for Sergeants (the 1958 film version, in which he also appeared, saw him team up for the first time with one of his most famous television co-stars: Don Knotts).

Though he performed countless television, film and stage roles over the course of his career, Griffith is most famous for his two iconic television shows: The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) and Matlock (1986-1995). However, lesser known is that Griffith – a life-long music lover and performer – released a number of gospel albums and won a Grammy Award for his 1996 platinum-selling I Love to Tell the Story – 25 Timeless Hymns.

Griffith was a member of the Television Academy Hall of Fame, the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Christian Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Andy Taylor, the character Griffith portrayed on The Andy Griffith Show, was named the 8th best TV dad of all time by TV Guide. Griffith received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Ron Howard, Griffith’s television son and real-life friend, commented on Griffith’s passing on the website

“His love of creating, the joy he took in it whether it was drama or comedy or his music, was inspiring to grow up around-.He felt he was always working in service of an audience he really respected and cared about. He was a great influence on me. His passing is sad. But he lived a great rich life.”

Andrew Samuel Griffith was born in Mount Airy, N.C. on June 1, 1926. He’s survived by his third wife, Cindi Knight, and two children.

-Mike Crisolago